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How big a mid-course correction?; No bonanza for conservatives

Like its surf-lapped shoreline, New England's political sands are continuing to shift.Except for the New Hampshire governorship, wrested from a moderate Democrat by Republican John Sununu, voters drifted away from conservatives throughout the six-state region.The heaviest liberal tide was in Massachusetts, where US Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, whose 1984 Democratic presidential aspirations are only thinly veiled, sprinted to a fourth term, beating GOP conservative Raymond Shamie 61 percent to 38 percent. Bay State voters also returned former Gov. Michael S. Dukakis to office by a similar margin.Undoubtedly of great disappointment to President Reagan was the unseating of eight-term GOP US Rep. Margaret Heckler in the state's new Fourth District by a liberal Democratic freshman, Rep. Barney Frank.Considerably closer were the reelection victories of GOP Sens. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. of Connecticut, John H. Chafee of Rhode Island, and Robert T. Stafford of Vermont. During their primary races, all three moderate Republicans were targets of NCPAC. Mr. Weicker slipped by Democratic liberal Rep. Toby Moffett, to retain his Senate seat for a third term.Three New England Democratic governors fended off conservative challengers: Joseph E. Brennan of Maine, William A. O'Neill of Connecticut, and J. Joseph Garrahy in Rhode Island. Meanwhile, Vermont's moderate GOP Gov. Richard A. Snelling, past president of the National Governors' Association, was returned to an unprecedented fourth two-year term over Democratic Lt. Gov. Madeleine Kunin.New Hampshire's governor-elect Sununu, a physics professor, wrested the governorship from a second-term Democratic moderate, Hugh Gallen. The conservative Republican's victory means that the Granite State, which will hold the first of the nation's presidential primaries next year, will be in the hands of a Ronald Reagan booster.Mr. Sununu's victory is credited in part to his pledge to veto any proposals for a sales tax or personal income tax. Governor Gallen, who in the past had made such a commitment, refused to do so again. New Hampshire is the only state without both of these levies. Sununu was supported by arch-conservative former Gov. Meldrim Thomson Jr. In Maine, conservative Republican US Rep. David Emery lost his Senate bid to incumbent Democrat George Mitchell.

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